“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius
As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my favorite blogs is “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” by Eric Barker. He writes well-researched essays that I find helpful. A recent email I received– 5 Questions That Will Make You Emotionally Strong — was especially inspiring, so I wanted to share some of his advice.
While the entire email was insightful, for me, Barker’s suggestion that anger comes from a sense of entitlement, a feeling that the world owes us what we don’t have, was most helpful. If we are angry that we’re stuck in traffic, our anger comes from an assumption that we are mysteriously entitled to a hassle-free drive. Not sensible, right? But all too human.
Using the words “should” and “must” trumpet our feeling that the world owes us and shouldn’t put obstacles in our way. Have you ever been “should upon” by someone else? (Great pun, huh?) Remember what that feels like and avoid inflicting the same on friends and acquaintances–or even drivers in the next lane.
A sense of entitlement makes for an unhappy life. We’re always expecting more from the universe than it can give.
What do we need for a better one? Very little according to Marcus Aurelius. But if our lists are long, we might ask ourselves: “Do I really need this item or that one to be happy?” I know my own list will shrink quickly because, guess what? Almost certainly not.
Another way to think about happiness is to ask ourselves what we will regret on our death beds? As Eric Barker reports, the biggest regret is: “I wish I’d had the courage to be true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
I hope that won’t be my regret. I hope I can live the rest of my life feeling blessed rather than entitled, inspired by gratitude rather than angry. I’m hoping I can enjoy being who I am, a flawed but worthy human being. I’m working on it.
I hope the same for you, friends.